Attorney claims Hillsborough firefighter wanted on misdemeanor battery charge has not fled the state

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County firefighter wanted on a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from his alleged involvement in a Key West bar fight maintains he will turn himself in to face the charges, but has no intention of altering his vacation plans that would require him to return to Florida early.

 

 

Key West Police issued a warrant for Clint Walker, a 33-year-old Hillsborough County firefighter from Bradenton, after a bar fight that purportedly took place in September at the Rumor Lounge in Key West. The incident allegedly involved several members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, according to a police report. Walker’s arrest warrant states that he is a “confirmed active member” of the Outlaws; however, Walker’s attorney, Jerry Theophilopoulos, has denied Walker’s membership in the gang in several local news reports.

Theophilopoulos told the Florida Record that his client is currently out of the state and not on the run. He said Walker plans to return to Florida on Dec. 5 to turn himself into authorities.

“Mr. Walker is not a fugitive and he is not purposely staying away from Florida as some unethical media outlets have reported,” Theophilopoulos told the Florida Record. “Let’s not forget this is a misdemeanor and not a felony.”

Theophilopoulos said Walker returning early from out-of-state is not an option due to the expense he'd incur.

“The warrant will be processed and he will be processed through the jail on Dec. 5," he said.

According to the police report, Walker and several other suspects allegedly punched the manager of the lounge, John Mafera, several times, injuring Mafera as well as another lounge employee. The brawl supposedly began following an argument between one of the men wearing a jacket with the Outlaw logo and a woman who was in the bar at the time. Walker was allegedly identified in a surveillance video that shows the incident unfolding.

Theophilopoulos told a Tampa news station that Walker was not involved with the Outlaw gang but was at one time a member of the group’s motorcycle club. The Outlaws Motorcycle Club is listed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as an “outlaw motorcycle gang” that “engages in various criminal activities,” according to the DOJ.

Walker is currently on paid administrative leave from the Hillsborough County Fire Department pending an investigation.

“The county continues to review the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Hillsborough County Human Resources Director Peggy Rowe told the Florida Record. “Clinton Walker remains on administrative leave until such time as the county determines what, if any, disciplinary action is appropriate."

Shortly after the incident allegedly involving Walker, Mike Merrill, Hillsborough County administrator, said in a statement that a directive was issued to all county employees under his administration “that prohibits employees from any membership or voluntary participation with an outside organization that is recognized by government agencies to support or be involved in criminal or illegal discriminatory activity.”

“As soon as all of the discovery, police reports, videos, etc., are provided to us, we will then make a complete and transparent statement. Mr. Walker intends on fighting this frivolous charge,” said Theophilopoulos.

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